Paul George doesn’t think Heat can beat Pacers in playoffs without home court

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Can we just fast-forward ahead to the Pacers/Heat Eastern Conference Finals?

(I suppose something could derail that still, but let’s hope not. The fact is the drop off in the East is so severe after those two teams that if one of those top two teams gets knocked off for injuries or whatever reason the East playoffs become a coronation, not a contest.)

As of Jan. 17 the Pacers have a four-game lead over Miami for the best record in the East, which speaks to the focus the two teams have shown so far this season in trying to secure that top spot. Miami is fully capable of what they did last year, throwing up 27 straight wins and flying past Indy, but right now the Pacers want the home court and are focused on getting it.

Why? Because they don’t think the Heat can beat them in a Game 7 in Indianapolis. That’s what Paul George told Showtime’s Jim Rome, as transcribed by Ben Golliver at Sports Illustrated.

“We don’t,” George said. “I mean, we know how well we play at home. We’re one of the best teams in the postseason last year defending our home court. We just know how big home-court advantage is when it comes down to postseason. That’s one of our main goals this year is to lock up the first seed so we can have the opportunity to play at home throughout the whole playoffs.”

Miami is the two-time defending NBA champion and has done that with some big road wins, including Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the Pacers last season. They are capable of winning anywhere.

But Indiana stands a better chance of beating them at home — and the Pacers are focused on getting that advantage in a way the Heat are not.

Jeremy Lamb hits game-winner despite Bismack Biyombo, others Hornets prematurely running on court to celebrate

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The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.

Too excited.

After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.

Ashley Holder:

The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.

Several Hornets were certainly relieved.

Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)

Pacers star Victor Oladipo returns from 11-game absence

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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When the Pacers ruled Victor Oladipo out indefinitely a couple weeks ago, it seemed gloomy.

But Indiana weathered the storm, going 7-4 without its best player.

Now, Oladipo is back. He started against the Bucks tonight.

I still think the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will comprise the Eastern Conference’s top tier by the end of the season. But the Pacers (17-10, fourth in East) have a chance to crash the party. They acquitted themselves well without Oladipo, and it should get only easier with their offensive focal point/top perimeter defender.

NBA promotes Bulls’ Mexico game with video of their bus bottoming out

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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The Bulls will play the Magic in Mexico City tomorrow.

Even amid all Chicago’s problems, that’s still a marquee game for the NBA as it expands its reach globally. So, the league is showcasing Chicago’s trip.

With unintentional hilarity.

NBA:

That sound eight seconds in is Chicago’s season.